“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Do you know who said those words, and to whom they were said? Today and tomorrow we are reading the book of Esther. Over 30 years have passed since the Jews returned to Israel, but Esther and her uncle Mordecai are still living in exile, where the Medes and Persians are now in power. King Ahasuerus throws a banquet for all the people, serving them all the wine they desire. The fact the Bible mentions the wine tells me that when the significant events start to unfold, the crowd is well intoxicated. The king (himself “in high spirits from wine”) calls for his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, to make an appearance, “in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles.” She has enough good sense and strength of character to refuse to parade around in front of a bunch of drunken men but ends up losing her position as Queen because of it.
After the king comes to his senses, he realizes he’s now without a queen. (I guess it didn’t occur to him to apologize!) His friends come up with a rather degrading plan. They tell him to bring all the prettiest young women in the province to the palace, try them out one by one (i.e. sleep with them) and pick the one he likes best as his new queen. The young women would have had no choice in this matter. This was not an invitation to enter a beauty pageant; you were taken from your home whether or not you agreed to go, separated from your family, forced into a year of “beauty treatments” to make you presentable, and waited for your name to be called so the king could rape you.
Esther was one of these young women taken to the palace. She was an orphan who lived in her uncle Mordecai’s care. At his instructions, she hid the fact that she was a Jew. You know the story; she was chosen to replace the Queen.
Our reading takes us only halfway through the story. Haman has moved his plan to destroy the Jews forward, convincing the king to sign it into law. Mordecai tells Esther she has to speak up for her people. When she hesitates, knowing it could cost her very life, he tells her that God will save the Jews regardless, but if she does not step up to the task, she and her family will be killed. That’s when he says it. It’s “for such a time as this” that you are where you are.
What’s the takeaway today? Sometimes we romanticize what happened to Esther, in a “king falls in love” kind of way. But the reality is, Esther had come into her position in an ugly, demeaning, frightening way. No young, innocent Jewish girl would have chosen to be pulled from her home in that way, to be thrust into the bed of a heathen king. That was man’s evil idea. Yet by God’s sovereignty, Esther was in a position to accomplish a great thing for her people. That’s the lesson. God can use what man intended for evil for good. When your circumstances make you think God has forgotten you, remember that He is already working to redeem them. When Satan throws the worst day of your life at you, God is right there, ready to make something good of it, something you never thought possible. Just wait. Give Him time to unfold His plan. Your story is not over yet.